The Top 25:
1. Ben Wallace, Pistons
The midseason trade of Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo to Orlando was made with the express intent of clearing money for Wallace. To make him the highest-paid Piston, Detroit would have to offer him a deal beginning at $12,000,001. If the Pistons come in south of that level, which they will almost certainly try to do, Wallace may regret his decision to proceed without a traditional agent.
2. Al Harrington, Hawks
What kind of starting salary will Atlanta bring to the table when negotiations begin? If Harrington believes the offer is too low, he'll look to leave through a sign-and-trade deal. But how many teams out there are willing to pay Harrington's price? And can they give Atlanta a good player(s) in return in a sign-and-trade? The presence of Marvin Williams and Josh Smith will make Harrington expendable if his price is more than the Hawks will pay, but as of now there are more questions than answers here.
3. Jason Terry, Mavericks
Stop us if you've heard this before: The Mavs have a point guard who might command more money on the open market than owner Mark Cuban is willing to pay, and that point guard could turn to his former team, which is desperate for a playmaker. But in this case, we're talking about Terry and the Hawks, not Steve Nash and the Suns.
4. Nazr Mohammed, Spurs
There were a few people wondering what Nazr was thinking when he turned down an extension worth more than $20 million prior to opening night, but this 7-footer has upped his value over the course of the season by reclaiming his starting spot from Rasho Nesterovic.
5. Joel Przybilla, Trail Blazers
When a couple of his teammates angered him with their effort level, Portland coach Nate McMillan urged Przybilla to take his complaints public. He did, and he'll probably decide it's a wise move to bail out of this sinking ship while he can.
6. Nene, Nuggets (restricted)
The injured Brazilian forward fired agent Michael Coyne and switched to Dan Fegan, who has a reputation for getting his clients top dollar on the open market. The decision on whether Nene will go or stay will be influenced by whether general manager Kiki Vandeweghe survives in Denver.
7. Mike James, Raptors (opt out)
Newly installed GM Bryan Colangelo has reservations about whether it's worth the long-term risk to keep James, who will be 31 at the start of next season, for the amount of money James will command after what has been by far the best season of his career. Look for a sign-and-trade deal here.
8. Peja Stojakovic, Pacers (opt out)
It's tough to find anybody who believes Stojakovic will truly be on the market this summer, the thinking being that the Pacers were smart enough to get a wink-wink deal in place before they acquired Peja for Ron Artest. Such deals are in violation of NBA rules, but their existence is hard to prove.
9. Vladimir Radmanovic, Clippers
He surrendered his Larry Bird rights when he accepted the deal that sent him from Seattle to Los Angeles, so the most he can get is the midlevel exception (about $5 million). But there will be teams lining up to offer him that money.
10. Drew Gooden, Cavaliers (restricted)
We'll rank him as the third-best power forward on the market behind Harrington and Nene simply because more teams like Nene's upside, whereas there's a general feeling that the Gooden we're seeing now is as good as he'll ever be.
11. Chris Wilcox, SuperSonics (restricted)
It's hard to find any other big man who has improved his stock over the second half of the season as much as Wilcox, who is now being spoken of as a member of Seattle's core group of young players.
12. Bonzi Wells, Kings
There is a dearth of free agent talent available at shooting guard, and if the Kings don't get out of the first round of the playoffs (or make the playoffs, for that matter) they won't be willing to make Wells the same type of long-term commitment he might find elsewhere.
13. Reggie Evans, Nuggets
Another player who forfeited his Bird rights when he agreed to a midseason trade, Evans is establishing full midlevel value through his play off the bench for Denver.
14. Marcus Banks, Timberwolves
If Wilcox has done the most of any big man to improve his value, Banks certainly takes the award in that category among guards. Went from being unused in Boston to a starter in Minnesota. But can he get Earl Watson-type money on the open market?
15. Alonzo Mourning, Heat
You'd think he'd be happy now that he's back in Miami and still laughing over the buyout he got from the Raptors. But 'Zo is never completely happy, and now he wants one more big money deal. You buying, Riles?
16. Bobby Jackson, Grizzlies
He's been pigeonholed into a career as a sixth man, but he's been getting the job done lately for the Grizzlies while Chucky Atkins and Eddie Jones have struggled.
17. Sam Cassell, Clippers
If he doesn't end up back with Los Angeles (they'd like to keep him if the price is right), he'll find a new home somewhere else and probably lead that team to the playoffs, too.
18. Flip Murray, Cavaliers
Gave up his Bird rights because he wanted to establish some value, and he's getting his chance as Cleveland's starting two guard. Will likely get at least a piece of somebody's midlevel exception.
19. Rasual Butler, Hornets
A great shooter, and one of the best under-the-radar players out there, he's been a decent contributor for the league's most surprising team.
20. Tim Thomas, Suns
Has already reestablished some nice value with his strong play for Phoenix, and a big postseason could put him over the top. That's how he got his last monster contract from the Bucks.
21. Speedy Claxton, Hornets
His stock has fallen as fast as Banks' has risen, but he's still one of the few solid veteran point guards available. Played for Larry Brown in Philadelphia and the Knicks might seek a reunion if they can't get James from Toronto.
22. Lorenzen Wright, Grizzlies
Lost his job to Jake Tsakalidis before regaining it by default when Big Jake hurt his thumb two weeks ago. Memphis tried to trade him before the deadline and is unlikely to want him back.
23. DJ Mbenga, Mavericks (restricted)
Interest in him might be reduced by the fact that other teams will expect Mark Cuban to match any reasonable offer for the center who has supplanted Erick Dampier as Dallas' most effective defensive big man.
24. Keith Van Horn, Mavericks
He's done for the year after breaking his hand, which will probably cost him some money. He would have had a chance to boost his stock in the postseason.
25. David Wesley, Rockets
There are quite a few veteran guards vying for this final spot, so take your pick of Wesley, Nick Van Exel, Atkins, Gary Payton, Tony Delk and Milt Palacio.